In this week’s Farmer’s Diary, Clodagh Hughes, sheep farmer, discusses completing her final Green Cert exams and assignments and treating sheep farming as a business.
I have missed my wee diary entries for a week or two now; I was busy finishing my Green Cert course, which I needed to focus on.
We had a few assignments to hand up by Thursday, April 14th, and, yes, I left a lot of work until the last minute, but, despite this, I got them in on time…just about.
We also had one big assignment due for Easter Monday that I struggled with.
It was a very important module, all to do with farm planning and finances, all the grown-up and necessary stuff you need to be on top of when trying to run a business.
By completing this module, I had to face up to a few home truths that, although I was aware of, I had been ignoring until recently.
It is that feeling of being a bit in denial of a situation, and, I must admit, it was hanging over me.
Up until very recently, I have not properly recognised the day-to-day goings-on on my wee farm as a business. I still have people comment on; how are things with my ‘hobby farm’!
Let me clear something up, and this is as much for my sake as yours; what I do here on my farm isn’t a hobby.
It may not be anywhere near the largest sheep farm in Ireland, but it sure as hell is no hobby.
Moreover, I can see now that as soon as I realised it is indeed a small business that I am running and continue to build on, might I add, I started to take myself and what I do more seriously.
I have started to view myself in a more professional capacity as a small sheep farmer.
I have built up skills and experience in the last five years on my own and through working and talking to other farmers.
And, to cap it all off, I have completed my farmer’s Green Cert (hopefully no repeats required! Light a candle for me!).
I have just engaged the services of a Teagasc farm advisor. These men and women are trained to give trusted advice to farmers, be it advice on grassland management, livestock, fees and schemes to be aware of; the list is endless. You pay a small annual fee for the service but, in my opinion, it is well worth it. My lovely advisor has already gotten a few things fixed up online that I had filled in wrong last year.
He also came out to walk the farm with me and got a feel for what I am trying to achieve. Because he was seeing it through fresh, neutral eyes, he could steer me in the right direction regarding a few issues I had been having.
All in all, I see this as a very positive step for me, and I already feel more confident in myself.
Oh, by the by, everyone is well on the farm. I will fill you all in next week.
Read more sheep farming diary entries.